CHAPTER 2: How To Record In your Home Studio [GUIDE]

How To Record Instruments & Vocals In The StudioFinally, you’ve fully set-up your studio like in:

Chapter 1: Essential Recording Equipment

Now your ready to start with your first sound recording.

But

…you don’t know how to get the best signal from those mics you bought.

Lucky

We have made this exclusive how to record guide for you to follow.

For those who don’t know:

Recording is nothing more then capturing a sound which can be reproduced later on.

In our home studio we will be using a computer for the task, which will digitize our signals.

We are going to discuss the following:

  • The sound we hear
  • Recording of your instruments & vocals
  • Midi

Let’s jump into it!


1. Vocals 2. Instruments 3. Electric Guitars 4. Acoustic Guitars 5. Bass 6. Keyboard & Synths 7. Acoustic Drums 8. Electronic Drums 9. MIDI


What do we need to record?

The most important thing you need is a device which can store data.

This can be:

  • a digital recorder (for example a hand-held recorder with built-in microphones)
  • or a computer with a nice audio interface and good audio editing software

The sound that we hear

If you want to record a sound which you can monitor, you will need to use a microphone.

There are many types of mics and also some are made for special purposes (most home studios use: a condenser microphone and a dynamic microphone).

Further more you will need equipment which can transform your audio signal into line-level.

Some mics need phantom-power (for condenser mics) and a preamp.


 Recording Vocals

How To Record Vocals In 7 StepsMaybe you’re a vocalist, maybe you’re not.

But that’s okay.

Through proper training, you’ll achieve your ideal vocal style. It’s easier to become a professional singer today than in the last few years.

Recording technology was quite expensive a few decades ago and a cassette player with a microphone jack was a great way to hear yourself singing.

It was from here that many garage band singers learned improving their singing.

looking at one’s self in the mirror, or rather in this case, listening to one’s voice intimately is needed to improve your vocal skills.

Today, with more affordable studio equipment, you could improve yourself and even use your own practice set as your professional set when recording vocals.

I know many of our readers have tons of questions about this topic, so here we go!


Recording Instruments

Some instruments which are directly recorded can already be line-level but not the right signal strength of the line-level we are going to use.

This line-level signal needs to be transformed.

A DI-Box will change the impedance and a preamp will boost the signal.


Electric Guitars

How To Record Guitar In 7 StepsThis rock star’s symbolic instrument is one of the most challenging instruments to record.

Because of its tendency to hit mid-range and spill over other frequencies.

If you have a sharp ear, this would be a major headache.

When recording guitars you will most likely be using a single condenser or dynamic microphone (whichever you’d like to use).

Placing it on the off-axis area of your guitar loudspeaker’s cone and capturing a decent sound of your performance.

Professional studios use a combination of amps, microphones, on and off axis microphones which they blend together to create their signature recording sounds.

Unfortunately, it might just cost $10,000 for a guitar setup like that.

Maybe even more.

There are other ways for us low to mid-level studios though.


Acoustic Guitars

You’re probably familiar with Candyrat Records and their alien-level musicians doing some nasty insane instrumentals on acoustic guitars.

Better yet, you might love listening to some Spanish guitar and keep on wondering how they keep that acoustic or nylon guitar sound faithful to the actual recording.

Well, if you’ve observed their videos closely (especially that Andy McKee one), then you’ll see those acoustic walls riddled with holes absorbing maximum low and middle frequencies, or probably not.

You’ve probably seen different microphone positions in their recordings.

Yes, that’s how difficult it would be to record.

But the sound. Listen to it and tell me if it’s worth it!

Acoustic DI

Room acoustics are probably the most important aspect of acoustic guitar recording.

Some musicians invest a truckload of money just to modify their recording space to become suitable for acoustic guitar recording.

If they’re spending like that and we’re here with no money, all we’ve got is an acoustic DI box.

You might say you already have a direct box, but acoustic DI boxes have an higher input impedance.

That’s because acoustic guitar pickups are weaker than electric guitar or piezo-electric pickups you install on the guitar bridge or head.

As spending thousands of dollars to absorb all low-end from your recording room is impractical for just one instrument, the acoustic DI box has more high end for acoustic presence of the instrument.


Bass

How To Record Bass Guitar In 6 StepsAlmost The Same… Except For One Thing

To be honest, recording bass guitar is quite similar to recording electric guitars the traditional manner.

However

…you’ll be using different microphones that would capture low-frequencies.

Yes,

you won’t be using some condenser microphones here.

Purpose made microphones can capture those ultra-low frequencies from bass instruments.


Keyboards & Synthesizers

Stereo recording a keyboard or a synth is quite easy.

Plug it in your direct analog outputs and you’ve got a great-sounding recording, right?

Well, not really.

Your line-level connectors on your keyboard have higher outputs and are not of instrument level.

This means you can’t actually record your keyboards straight into your audio interface’s line inputs

Well, you can, but you’ll have to use a stereo DI box.


Acoustic Drums

How To Record Drums In 7 StepsOkay, you want a real acoustic drum recording.

I’ll give it to you, but it’s not that simple.

Drum recording needs a multiple microphone setup.

During the era of The Beatles, Abbey road only used three microphones. That gives you an idea why a multiple microphone setup is essential.

Condenser microphones are used on cymbals and other high-pitched instruments to capture their natural acoustics.

For drums, dynamic microphones have the capability of capturing low to middle frequencies to create shells.

Imagine the possibilities during mixing, using the overhead microphones to adjust the shell character while emphasizing the beat and ground with the dynamics of the shells.

Special instruments, such as hi-hats and rides, will have their own microphones.

Toms have a single microphone, though you could always use two.

But kick drums and snare pieces would often have multiple microphones (Blending is important here as it is a difficult thing to use).

There’s more to be said, but alas, the acoustic drum recording section should has its own article!


Electronic Drums

How To Program Drums In 6 StepsElectronic drums are the same as most VST drums except they have their own drum “brains” which provide the same sampling capabilities as VST drums.

The hardware of these drum kits also feel like the real thing, from the skin to the bounce.

They’re quite enough to play, which makes them essential if you’re in a suburban neighborhood and you’re itching to record in the middle of the night.

Electronic drums can also work with VST drum ROMplers for the maximum tonal variation you could get from a drumkit.

All for less than the actual cost of having to fix your own home, new microphones, amplification and good room acoustics.

But if you insist…


Recording Midi

MIDI RecordingTo record MIDI you need a device which allows you to capture a MIDI signal.

You will also need a device which sends MIDI signals.

(for example: a midi keyboard or pad controller).

If your audio interface doesn’t have MIDI ins & outs you can always use a MIDI to USB cable to send the data to your software.

MIDI signals are often used for 3 main purposes:

  1. for controlling virtual instruments
  2. for controlling specific DAW functions
  3. controlling other MIDI enabled audio equipment

I hope this helps you along your recording path…

So please share and comment, you know we love that!